Talking rubbish with Waste Management’s Zoie Bryce

Zoie Bryce, Acting Branch Manager for Waste Management in Nelson, fights waste with Hugh Stewart, Waste Management’s Regional Sales Manager (Auckland)

How to be less rubbish at rubbish

In her role as Acting Branch Manager for Waste Management in Nelson, Zoie Bryce needs to know a thing or two about waste.

But where she goes a little further is in helping others to understand more about this. Zoie actively works to educate her clients and the people in her community to be less rubbish at rubbish.

We recently met with her to ‘talk rubbish’. Here’s what we learned…

“Tip your rubbish bin out onto your desk.” 

Direct quote. Of course we’re not suggesting you actually do this (or if you do, perhaps use someone else’s desk, or maybe some old tarpaulin and a pair of gloves…?!) but the point Zoie’s making is that a more intimate connection with your rubbish is the start to a beautiful friendship.

You may be surprised to see how much rubbish you’re throwing away which can be composted, reused or recycled. Compostable products in a tip generate methane – an extremely harmful greenhouse gas – where it could be generating soil. Reusing ‘waste’ can save time and money. And recycling, at least, reduces waste.

“Site separation is key.” 

Simple tips to managing waste on site include getting rid of your under-the-desk rubbish bin and putting in a shared waste station (with good signage) – one that you have to walk to, so you have a few seconds to rethink your decision to throw.

Another tried and tested idea is to employ a ‘Green Champion’ – someone who will drive action and call the rest of the team to account. This could be you?

Most importantly it’s right to expect Leadership to… well… take the lead. Waste management is as much about workplace culture and ethos as it is about sensibility. Sound management of company resources – especially if they’re costing money to remove – is a business win, so Leadership needs to be across this.

“Think before you throw.”

Waste Management accepts organic waste – from kitchens to gardens – as well as waste that can be recycled, so have a think before you throw.

Lots of materials can be recycled: paper, cardboard, plastic wrap, metal, batteries, tyres, and even polystyrene (at special plants) – although this is the least favourite on Zoie’s list of rubbish and best avoided if you can.

There are also a few items in your bin which you think would be recyclable, but are not – for example milk bottle lids (remove these from bottles) or some packaging for liquid products. Plastics numbered 1, 2 and 5 are recyclable. The rest – for example bubble wrap and other soft plastics – are not. And when it comes to mixed waste – such as cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic tape – things get even more complex. Throwing these blindly into the recycling bin only adds work and undermines the overall process. Some call it ‘wishcycling’, others call it an opportunity wasted.

Find out more about recycling the right way on Waste Management’s website or here’s a handy Playbook created by Reclaim for their nationwide Recycling Week.

It’s important to remember that much of the material you send off to be recycled is sorted by hand – so be kind, wash your items and tuck away sharp edges before you throw.

“Smarter procurement, smarter design.”

Avoiding waste is the cannon. Who needs to sort what’s not on site? Take responsibility for what comes in, and what goes out of your business. Inform your decision-making through research. Talk to colleagues and suppliers about alternative options. Connect with others in the industry to drive local solutions. Time spent is time (and a pretty good planet) saved later on down the line.

“Data is just so important.”

You can’t improve what you don’t measure – so find a way to keep track. Waste Management is able to weigh and record commercial waste and provide detailed reports so that customers can see exactly where the bulk of their waste is coming from. By feeding this into a sustainability report customers can then track year-on-year improvements, and potential associated savings.

Changes in the industry

Finding ways to reduce waste and feed it in to the circular economy – rather than straight into the ground – has always been high on the agenda for those in the industry, even more so now. This approach is now beginning to filter into other industries too.

Some businesses are starting to eyeball waste as a potential product – see FuturePost (in Marlborough), who are making fence posts out of waste plastic.

Others are finding ways to reduce the likelihood of their products becoming waste – for example ITM has implemented a coloured film collection to make it easier to separate on building sites and recycle at the plant.

Waste Management considers its pick-up frequency and routes carefully to reduce fuel use, and were the first in the waste sector in Aotearoa New Zealand to start using electric vehicles – including waste collection trucks – which they have been incorporating into their fleets over the past few years.

Waste management makes sense

There are so many business opportunities when it comes to waste, and it’s also a great starting point to get others to think about their environmental impact on a broader scale. Here’s a reminder of some simple steps you can take to better manage your waste:

  1. Analyse your waste – how much are you discarding which can be avoided, reused, composted or recycled?
  2. Remove under-the-desk rubbish bins and install centralised waste stations to enable sorting and capture of different types of rubbish– site separation is key
  3. Employ a ‘Green Champion’ – someone to drive action and call others to account
  4. Call Leadership to account – have a chat with them, ask others to
  5. Think before you throw – get to know what can go in which bin
  6. Procure better – avoid wasteful products coming into your business
  7. Design better – take responsibility for what goes out of your business
  8. Track your waste – you can’t improve what you don’t measure
  9. Make change – identify opportunities

Top image credit: Zoie Bryce, Acting Branch Manager for Waste Management in Nelson, fights waste with Hugh Stewart, Waste Management’s Regional Sales Manager (Auckland)

Zoie Bryce is an experienced Sales Leader, Marketing Manager and Business Manager, primarily in the food and waste sectors. She has been with Waste Management for three years, and was recently appointed Acting Branch Manager for the Nelson site. She is passionate about working with businesses to help them achieve their sustainability goals, with waste at the heart of this.


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